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March 19, 2011
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the Duke student-athletes.
Q. Nolan, what's different about the second day of a weekend in the Tournament? Obviously less preparation time and those sorts of things. What's different for you guys, what's different about the game the next time?
NOLAN SMITH: Basically just a quicker preparation. You know, you know who you're playing but you have to get your rest at the same time and you're in the hotel getting your preparation. So you have your practice time, and you just have to take full advantage of all the time that you have preparing for the next opponent.
Q. Nolan, not knowing if this may be the last practice at Duke, do you think about trying to cherish every moment that you're even at practice?
NOLAN SMITH: Definitely. Every chance that I have to be around my teammates, this team and Duke, I try and take full advantage of it, whether it's practice out here for about an hour and a half or tomorrow's game. I leave it on the court and do whatever it takes to make sure it's a great memory.
Q. Nolan, what's been the number one point of emphasis that Coach K has said to you guys today in your preparations for Michigan tomorrow?
NOLAN SMITH: Be who we've been. Defensively, of course, we want to set the tone and be a tough team tomorrow. We got to play our defense, contest, pressure the ball, and if we do those things against a very good Michigan team, we'll be in a -- we'll have a very good chance to win.
Q. For Washington, who doesn't know much about North Carolina, what would you advise them to do against North Carolina?
NOLAN SMITH: I don't know. I'm not going to give any tips (laughter). North Carolina, I'm on their side.
Q. Miles, you guys will have a big size advantage tomorrow. I assume you've had it most of the season. How will you be able to capitalize on that defensively, scoring in the post? Where do you think you guys night be able to capitalize on your size advantage?
MILES PLUMLEE: Trying to take advantage of it on the offensive end of the court. Look inside, take advantage of mismatches, especially at forward. On defense, we know we're going to have to play a little differently with the shooters they have and really have to contest out on the perimeter.
Q. Can both you guys answer, with you guys being Duke and this being Michigan, how much of a team -- an opponent always trying to give you their best shot, but as well as Michigan played yesterday, how do you take that, how do you answer that with a team with the target on your guy's back playing so well yesterday?
NOLAN SMITH: We're ready for a fight. Michigan has been playing great basketball, and tomorrow afternoon is going to e a tremendous game against a very, very good team, and we're always ready for every team's best shot. This tournament we're playing it one game at a time. When we play against Michigan tomorrow, we have to come out and play hard and just be the tougher team.
MILES PLUMLEE: Yeah. I'd say, you know, we're used to it all year long, we're used to playing with a target on our back. Everybody in the Tournament has to play that way or you're going to lose. So we're going to be ready to fight tomorrow.
Q. I know it doesn't effect tomorrow's game, but if you guys saw the Fab Five documentary, were you bothered by how Duke was portrayed in it?
NOLAN SMITH: Not at all. You know, I don't even know what an Uncle Tom is. Somebody give me the definition, I'd be delighted but -- I don't pay attention to that. Just ready to play tomorrow's game.
Q. Did you say you have -- did you watch the documentary last weekend?
NOLAN SMITH: Yes.
Q. Other than those comments, did you learn anything new about the dynamic Michigan/Duke from the documentary?
NOLAN SMITH: A little bit. That was a long time ago when the '91, '92 teams were playing against each other. So, I mean, we know it's going to be a tough game tomorrow just based off that. When Duke and Michigan go head to head, it's going to be a battle. Obviously, now it's in the Tournament where both teams don't want to lose. It's going to be a battle for sure.
Q. This is for Miles. Miles, did you happen to hear Coach Joyner's comments about you and your brother after the game yesterday about how video doesn't do you justice?
MILES PLUMLEE: No, sir.
Q. What he said was that you and Mason were a lot quicker than he thought and that he couldn't tell on video how well you guys moved. I was just wondering, the big guys, you guys seem to have really kind of made a jump the last couple of weeks. What is different, if anything, or just that experience starting to kick in and why have you guys made such an improvement?
MILES PLUMLEE: I think it's a combination of a lot of things. You know, the guards and the coaching staff, they've been making a lot more of an emphasis to get us the ball. So I think our confidence has been building each game throughout the ACC Tournament and even yesterday. We're feeling most comfortable in our roles and able to play a lot more aggressively.
Q. Both you guys have been around for a few of Coach K's accomplishments. A win tomorrow would be 900. What does 900 mean to you guys?
MILES PLUMLEE: It's a lot of wins. I don't know. It's really special to know we're playing for, you know, one of the best coaches ever and the fact that he's climbing to the top, you know, we want to make that happen.
NOLAN SMITH: It's definitely just an honor to be a part of more of his accomplishments. I personally have been a part of it a lot. Every time people tell me that, he's close to something else. It's not really a surprise because he's always close to something. It's an honor to be playing for Coach K.
Q. I guess this is more for Nolan. The two games against Michigan two years ago, the '08, '09 season, they were so drastically so different the one in New York and the one in Chrysler. What's your memory of those two and what stands out?
NOLAN SMITH: The first I think we handled their 1-3-1 zone the way we should. The second time we didn't. They turned us over a lot at Michigan, and they beat us the first time. The first time we handled them and won. Whatever defense they throw at us tomorrow, we have to be prepared and just be strong with the ball, take care of the ball. They're a very physical team defensively, and we just have to attack them, don't let them attack us.
MILES PLUMLEE: I agree with that. I remember as my freshman year and the second time playing at their place, that was the biggest thing, their pressure just turned us over and we just weren't really prepared for that game and that intensity. They play a unique offense and defense, so we're going to have to really prepare for that.
Q. Miles, you guys are one of the few teams that can match up size-wise with North Carolina. What is it about their big men, their interior, that really makes them such a tough opponent?
MILES PLUMLEE: First of all, they're both really good, and I think the differences they have between Tyler Zeller and John Henson, Henson is so long and blocks shots and gets all the boards, while, you know, Zeller hits the boards on the offensive end but leaks out a lot after defensive boards. The talk you have to have between two bigs in transition, not let him get layups and still be on the boards takes a lot of practice to get used to that.
Q. As a couple of guys who have been in this Tournament all the way to the end, is there an art to building momentum as the Tournament goes on?
NOLAN SMITH: I think that comes with preparation. That's really the only art that we had last year, we prepared and got better each game. If you get better every game, listen to your coaches, preparing for each team, you know, you'll come up with a masterpiece. That's what we did last year.
MILES PLUMLEE: Yeah. I think preparation was the biggest thing for us last year, and it's going to be huge going into this year because the turnaround is so quick, especially coming into a game like this. If you don't focus on the film, walk through all the stuff we do, you're going to come up short.
Q. You guys have mentioned facing their 1-3-1 zone. Have you played anyone that runs either one of those, the offense or the zone? How does that make preparation difficult if you haven't seen anybody like that before?
NOLAN SMITH: The only team we've seen is kind of like that is Virginia Tech who played a 2-3 high type of offense and lot of cutting and screening, back doors. We also played Princeton this year as well. Other than that, we haven't seen a team like this in a long time that switches up their defenses and has an offense that has a lot of movement.
We're going to have to talk. Our defense is going to have to start the talking, lot of communication, whether we're switching and if we talk and know we're connected defensively, we can defend them.
Q. I apologize if you've already talked about this, but with Kyrie coming back, how does that change you guys? You basically had changed your style, your rotation and everything after he was injured. Now he's coming back. How is that going to change your role and the team generally?
NOLAN SMITH: Doesn't really, you know. Just adds another very, very good player. We have more depth to our guard lineup. Right now with Kyrie and Tyler coming off the bench, you know, they add more defense, they can pressure the ball and everybody's role is going to stay the same. Everything is going to stay aggressive, stay in the attack mode. Kyrie comes in, he'll play his game as well.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions? Okay. Thank you guys.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We're just open it up for questions, right?
THE MODERATOR: First question to our right.
Q. Coach, a little earlier Coach Beilein was reminiscing about is inaugural game as a Division I coach against you. It was probably a more vivid memory for him than you. Can you take us back and what do you remember against that game against Canisius?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Look, I have a hard time remembering last week. Which game, you know?
Q. It was a middle week game, probably '92, '93 at Canisius.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We took our team up there?
Q. He came the Cameron. It was his very first game.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't remember. Again, nothing -- I don't remember a lot of things. My wife complains about that a lot. I do remember birthdays, answers, grandkids stuff, and all that. He's not coaching Canisius, nothing against Canisius. He's coaching Michigan.
Q. What's different about the second day, the second game? Obviously the lack of preparation is the big thing, but does that favor anyone in particular? Do you have a funky style that you can't prepare for in time or does that favor a certain kind of roster?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think it's equal for both teams. Obviously, that is the major thing that's different from the first and second game in a weekend. But I think if you don't have any injuries, you know, you don't have any interruptions internally with your own team, then, you know, you try to make subtle adjustments as far as who you're playing and go from there. You don't want to change too much in one day and to get your kids as much rest as possible in between. It's the same for both teams.
Q. Talking about change. When Kyrie went down, you changed your style, your rules, your rotation. Now that he's coming back, what kind -- it's probably a nice problem to have, but do you go back to what you were or which maximizes his skills, or do you try to --
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No. No. We stay -- look, our group has played really well. We're not changing our starting lineup. I think when Kyrie is in the ballgame, we would allow him just like we did yesterday, that if he can push it and, you know, make plays, obviously would do that. We have to then run a good half court offense.
So that's probably the only thing. And the fact that we have more depth as far as putting good defensive pressure on the perimeter. We're not -- we can't go back and try to play -- the other thing is we're not -- we have a one game season and if we don't beat Michigan, then it's over. So you don't start making, you know, all those changes based on the fact that somebody says you're going to go a certain number of games. We have. We'll have a very difficult game tomorrow and so we won't change that much.
Q. Coach, again referencing something Coach Beilein said that his purpose, his goal at Michigan is to get them back to where they were as a consistent participant in the NCAA Tournament. You played them a couple of games two years ago and now you're looking at them very closely. Could you comment maybe on his work at Michigan and where they are?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah. I think it's a no-brainer to say that when they hired John that they were going to be eventually a consistent NCAA participant. He's a good friend and I admire him. He's a coach's coach and he's going -- he's a program builder. They're building a program and it's evident. These are all the kids that he's recruited and they believe in what they're doing. As good as they are individually, they're better together, which is always a sign of a solid program and a winning program.
And he's had a. He's at a great school. Michigan is one of the great universities in the whole world. And he'll recruit well and he'll coach well, and you get that combination, you got a chance to be successful every year. Just a matter of how successful you become.
Q. Just talk a little bit about, given that Michigan plays a little bit unusually on offense, what challenges that presents to your defense.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I don't know if they play unusual. They play well. We have teams in our conference that have different styles, whether it be Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland. And in John's team, they space well. They have great spacing. You can only have great spacing and it be effective if you have good shooters that you space, otherwise you don't go out and cover those guys who can't shoot.
And so in his system, he use used the whole half court. You know, you can't -- it's difficult to shrink the width of the court against his team, and one of the things about playing good defense is if you can shrink a court, you make the court smaller based on adjustments, on personnel. And with his -- against his team, you have to play the entire half court, and so there's more room for error.
So you're not going to -- it presents its challenges, but so does -- if you play two big guys who are really good and they shrink it but they're bigger than you in that shrunken court and so -- but spacing, good ball movement, and they have good egos, good offensive egos of all the kids that play for him. In other words, they believe they can make plays and make shots and they're a very good basketball team.
Q. I know that you addressed this a couple days ago, but now that this matchup is reality, maybe could you talk about any added fire that that documentary --
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I didn't. There's nothing. I didn't watch the documentary. We're coaching against a great university, a great coach and this team. It really has absolutely nothing to do with this game and does not -- if I have to be motivated by something else for an NCAA -- this is my 101st NCAA game. Do you think I need motivation from a documentary?
Q. I'm guessing not.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Then you answered your question.
Q. Second part I was going to ask you --
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Maybe you can answer that one, too. We'll see if we can turn the tables again.
Q. This one is doubtful.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: You're doing well, though. You got a hundred so far.
Q. What your memories of that rivalry back in the '90s?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: None. I have none. I only focus on what I'm doing right now. I couldn't even remember John's game and that was after those games. John is going to be mad at me for that. I have no memories of that. I do have one. I think we won the National Championship two of those years if it's during those times that we had those rivalries.
Q. Similar question on along the lines of --
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Do you want to answer own question?
Q. If I did, I'd be sitting there next to you.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Come on. I'm okay.
Q. Nolan and miles were talking at the last time, I think it was last time you played Michigan, that they felt like the 1-3-1 zone they really struggled. It forced them into a lot of turnovers.
I'm a little afraid to ask if you recall that game.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I've studied this opponent very well and actually can answer almost any question that you have about this game.
Q. This game --
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Whether it's the right answer or not, I don't know, but I can answer it.
Q. How will your offense attack the 1-3-1 to be effective against in it?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Hopefully very well. We have good players, and we're going to get out on the court in about 20 minutes and we're going to work on it.
Q. With Michigan's schedule, they played Ohio State three times, Illinois, and a lot of teams that are supposed to have a height advantage and a decided advantage, is it good to start and get them down early to take some of that fight out of them of a team that can hurt you with the three-point shot?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah. I don't think you'll take the fight out of them. One of the reasons they're here -- when you turn around a season when you're one and six, then most people would have had the fight taken out of them and they ended up being better after being one and six in the Big Ten. So, to me it's a possession by possession game and try to use our height advantage to rebound. But they'll use our height against us as far as spacing, and so I just think it's going to be a really good game and we're going to have to play very, very well to win because they played outstanding teams.
They're not -- like you said, they played big teams and so they're not going to be in awe of anything that -- of our height. They're going to figure out ways of trying to use that against us.
Q. Mike, the last few weeks Mason has become a lot more passer and distributor kind of player and seems like the offense is going through him more. Is that by design, or is he just kind of recognizing things a little bit better now and getting others involved?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think he's in different places as a result of -- you know, Ryan, when he and Ryan were starting and Mason was almost always in the low post. Now he's in the low post and high post, and so I think he's just in more -- he has more opportunities to touch the ball, and they're not just scoring opportunities for himself, but convey the ball, whether it be for a scoring pass or a reposition the ball, you know, change sides, you know, stuff like that. He's a really good passer and likes that part of the game. So it's a part of our growth, really, you know, and his growth as a player and ours as a team.
Q. One, can you talk about Miles a little bit and his progression? About a month ago he was barely playing through a stretch of three, four games. He obviously got it back. What were you looking for from him, what has he done to come out of that?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Overall he's had a good season. But in the last two weeks, he's been outstanding, and I think part of it is our team was evolving, you know? When Kyrie did go down, we had to change what -- the way we played, and that had an impact on everybody.
And as the season progressed, you know, Seth wasn't always playing well, then he played well, you know. Andre was playing well, then not so well. Now he's -- all of our guys are playing fairly well right now because we finally have become, you know, the team that we should have evolved into, you know.
Even though we were ranked high and that, we weren't that team in January and for most of February. We were evolving and he's had that evolution.
Q. The other thing was with your post rotation, a year ago you had a four man post rotation, you brought the Plumlee brothers off the bench for energy. It's a three man rotation now. What's different, what's the same about it going into the post season?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it can score more, and remember, Kyle's part of that rotation. So it is a four man. You can put Kyle at the second big, and actually it's deeper than the one last year. I'm not saying it's better, you know, because towards the end, in the NCAA Tournament wasn't so much a rotation as it was Zoubek and Thomas in there most of the time. They were men. They were terrific.
Q. You mentioned Andre in responding to Al's question. Has he done a better job, Mike, of not pigeonholing himself as just a shooter and understanding that when the shot is not there, he can still contribute elsewhere?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah. I think he's had by far the best three weeks of his career, in practice and in games, you know. His defense has improved dramatically and his effort -- he's becoming more of a complete player and he can become a really, really good player, you know, if he stays on that course.
This season, whether it's one more game or more than one game, you know, it's short, but going -- you know, for the future, you know, he has a chance to be an outstanding player if he stays committed to that type of work ethic and practice. The practices that he's had, he's been very, very good. Moves his feet real well now and talks. Remember, he's just -- he's real young. He turned 19 this fall and he's already a sophomore, you know. He's still a young guy.
Q. Coach, can you talk about whether there was ever a time when you had to keep Kyrie's spirits up after he got injured?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Oh, I don't know if he was down so much. I think you spend every day making sure that he's not down. You talk to him every day. You make sure he's part of your unit. You ask him his take on the team and, you know, you make him feel part of the unit, and, you know, I think everybody has done that.
But Kyrie was great. That's why there's no problem about how do guys -- what do guys think about or whatever. They all want him back and they wanted him back a month ago if possible. So he never really left the team in an emotional way. He left it in a physical way.
THE MODERATOR: Four minutes remaining.
Q. Coach, what are the important things you need to keep in mind when you're attacking a 1-3-1 zone?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Not to get stood up. I think against any zone, to play standing up. You play standing up, then you only make arm passes. If you make arm passes without using your legs -- an arm pass is a weaker pass. When you get your whole body into a pass and you're engaged, they're stronger, they're more decisive and you usually get into a better area to make the pass from.
So any zone has the ability of standing you up because it's not pressuring you one-on-one. In man-to-man if you're pressured, you get strong. In a in a zone sometimes that space and then people in front of you in that space makes you think and stand up, and that's the very first thing in playing against a sloughing man or against a zone is to make sure you stay strong in your stands with the ball.
Q. You kind of got touching on it with Al's question. Can you speak specifically to the play of the Plumblees recently? It was kind of a more athletic versions of what you had last year.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yes. Yes. They've been great, you know, and they complement each other real well, and they're tall and athletic. They're not just tall, they're very athletic. And we can still play fast, we can still play man, and they've been really on the boards like crazy.
Miles offensive rebound-wise over these last four games, I think he has 18 offensive rebounds and that's just a huge plus, you know, for us when he does that. And Mason over the year has been our best defensive rebounder by far.
THE MODERATOR: Two more questions.
Q. Coach, I know you talked about Seth coming home here. Has he exceeded expectations with what he's brought to the table from when he entered the program?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't think overall expectations, but when we had the perimeter of Kyrie, Nolan and Kyle, he wasn't going to start, you know. Not going to work out, you know. So he was going to come in and unless Kyle went to the -- unless Kyle went to the four. He's pretty much a spacer, a shooter. And once Kyrie went down, he changed everything, you know, in mid season, in December, shape-wise, strength-wise, ball handling. He's really a complete player. He's had a great, great year, and he's a terrific kid and competitor and he got a lot better.
You know, we would rather have not had Kyrie injured. But as a result of that, there was a need for all these guys to get better, and they've gotten better. And we are now that team and hopefully now Kyrie and what he can do limited-wise will help advance that team, you know, that's how we're trying to approach it.
THE MODERATOR: Last question.
Q. I know this might be in your rearview mirror a little bit, too. Carolina's trio of Barnes and Zeller and Henson had a big game yesterday. How formidable have you found that trio to be?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I didn't see the game yesterday, but those kids are great and Roy uses them really well. In other words, having talent and using talent properly are two different things, and that's as good a front line as there is in the country. But then their coaching staff, Roy does a great job of using it, you know.
Henson is still the most disruptive defensive player in the country, you know, with his ability to block shots and -- I really love Henson. I think Henson plays with an enthusiasm, great enthusiasm. He's got to be -- I don't know him as well as a kid, but he's got to be a great kid to coach and a great teammate because he does unusual things, you know, like get multiple -- lot of blocks, lot of rebounds, and then he's a high percentage shooter because he takes good shots and -- but no, those guys play really well together.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: All right.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports